Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Music
cover art

The Civil Tones

City Stoopin'

(Pravda; US: 12 Jul 2011; UK: Import)

Infectiously energetic instrumentals

The Civil Tones is a quartet of multi-instrumentalists who play a faintly jazzy, solidly bluesy, intermittently boppy form of instrumental music that falls somewhere in the intersections of those genres. Using a simple template of guitars, keyboards, bass and drums, with occasional variation (notably brass and a variety of percussion sounds), the band has managed to create the soundtrack for a perfect summer afternoon. Much of it sounds vaguely familiar, but good luck pointing to this or that band, or song, or influence.


Opener “Soul to Go” is built upon an irrepressibly bouncy vibe and benefits from a ripping organ solo. “The Scrambler” is every bit as energetic as its title suggests, while “How’d Ya Like to Be King” is apt to have all but the dullest listener tapping along. At thirteen tracks, there’s plenty more where these three songs come from.  The news isn’t all good, however. By the second half of the album, some tunes start to blur together. Still. there’s plenty to like on this record, and for the most part the band makes the effort to inject new sounds at regular intervals. Listeners who aren’t wedded to the idea that vocals are an ironclad requirement in compelling music might wish to lend an ear.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
PopMatters' LUCY Giveaway! in PopMatters's Hangs on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.